I am what I am And what I am needs no excuses I deal my own deck Sometimes the ace sometimes the deuces It’s my life that I want to have a little pride in My life and it’s not a place I have to hide in Life’s not worth a danm til you can shout out I am what I am.
From Ancient Greece and Burlesque & Broadway to RuPaul’s Drag Race. DRAG has always been with us.
May 14, 1883 – On this day America’s foremost female impersonator is born in Newtonville, Massachusetts. Eltinge was a stage and silent film star who few actually realized was a man. So popular was he that during the Korean War, a troop ship was named in his, or rather, her honor.
After appearing in the Boston Cadets Revue at the age of ten in feminine garb, Eltinge garnered notice from other producers and made his first appearance on Broadway in 1904. As his star began to rise, he appeared in vaudeville and toured Europe and the United States, even giving a command performance before King Edward VII. Eltinge appeared in a series of musical comedies written specifically for his talents starting in 1910 with The Fascinating Widow, and returning to vaudeville in 1918. His popularity soon earned him the title of “Mr. Lillian Russell” for the equally popular beauty and musical comedy star.
Hollywood beckoned Eltinge and in 1917 he appeared in his first feature film, The Countess Charming. This would lead to other films including 1918s The Isle of Love with Rudolph Valentino and Virginia Rappe. By the time Eltinge arrived in Hollywood, he was considered one of the highest-paid actors on the American stage,
Eltinge was an intimate of the top Hollywood stars and a wealthy man, worth over $250,000. He built Villa Capistrano, one of the most lavish villas in the Hollywood area, where he lived with his mother and entertained lavishly. He also built a ‘dude ranch’ for men in Alpine, CA near San Diego But times were changing. The outrageous performances of female impersonators Francis Renault and Bert Savoy, and the drag balls and gay speakeasies of the 20’s “pansy craze” in New York made Eltinge’s style appear old-fashioned. He began to drink heavily and in 1923 was caught smuggling liquor from Canada. Despite a sensational trial and bad press, he managed to get an acquittal.
It was the beginning of his decline and with the arrival of the Great Depression and the death of vaudeville, Eltinge’s star began to fade. Eltinge resorted to performing in nightclubs. Crackdowns on cross-dressing in public, a misguided attempt to curb homosexual activity, prevented Eltinge from performing in costume. At one appearance in a Los Angeles club, Eltinge stood next to displays of his gowns while describing his old characters.
On May 7, 1941, Eltinge fell ill while performing at Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe nightclub. He was taken home and died in his apartment ten days later. His death certificate lists the cause of death as a cerebral hemorrhage.
Julian Eltinge leaves a legacy as one of the greatest and most forgotten female impersonators of the 20th.century.
Raise a glass and remember Julian/Vestta!
“My heart is simply melting at the thought of Julian Eltinge; His alter ego, Vesta Tilley, too. Since our language is so dexterous, let us call them ambi-dexterous – Why hasn’t this occurred before to you?”
“This is so fear-based, and it’s spreading that kind of fear and hatred among other people,” Harden said of the controversial legislation. “I believe this country will fight that.”
Harden encouraged her followers to contribute to the fundraiser in support of the LGBTQIA+.
“Our nation, our neighbors, our children, artists, our singers, our dancers, our better leaders, ceo’s [sic], writers, spiritual leaders, basically our humanity,. Gay is here to stay. Drag is here to stay. Donate what you can, and join us in spreading the love.”
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Eyewitnesses claim that the NYPD did not do enough. As usual.
Approximately 200 parents and children enjoyed the read-a-thon, led by the Drag Kings, Queens and Royalty of Drag Story Hour NYC at The Center, a resource hub for New York City’s LGBT community hosted by state Attorney General Letitia James on on Sunday.
Then the Proud Boys showed up.
Outnumbered by 4 to 1 Proud Boys, Orthodox Jewish Rabbi’s, and one lowly self hating homo from Gay’s for Trump named “Paul” however, got more than they bargained for while trying to intimidate the people attending the event. Chants of “Fuck the Proud Boys rang” out from counter-protestors at the venue, letting the violent chaos agents know that they WERE NOT welcome.
Despite police attempting to keep the two groups separated, a few broke through the ranks. One man wearing a gold Guy Fawkes mask attacked those defending the story hour, deeming his adversaries “ANTIFA” as he threw punches and grabbed at press cameras..
According to longtime LGBT Civil Rights Activist Ken Kidd who was in attendance and spoke with us:
I saw it happen. And was one of the ones who insisted that the cops make the cuff. They were ignoring it. It took at least 10 minutes of our chanting at them to do their jobs and, ultimately reminding them that we had the assault AND THEIR REFUSAL TO DO ANYTHING on video (When the video becomes available we will add it to this post/)
Oh, and those haters were just screaming obscenities and hate language, and their posters had incredibly offensive photos on them—really racy, PG-13 to R rated stuff that they were shoving down the throats of the kids and parents just trying to pass safely through us to hear a story told by someone in fun makeup and a bright outfit. We kept drowning them out by chanting BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH over and over until I came up with the idea of putting all the BLAH BLAH BLAHS to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. It was so much fun, so simple, joyful, and SHADY.
While one Proud Boy by the name of Robert Porco, 53, who was arrested for punching a protestor. Later out of nowhere and with no witnesses a Proud Boy trotted around with blood on his nose claiming a counter-protestor punched him. “I came here to help, not get the shit beat out of me”. The thug’s accusation of violence has over 2 million views on social media at this writing. Many believe it is a set up call to arms to further embolden Proud Boys and supporters to become more violent. Which is dangerous for our community and very disturbing in light of Donald Trump’s impending arrest Tuesday.
Please. Every LGBT and Ally should be on heightened alert to keep safe and be prepared to stand up and fight back for what is right.
Evil never backs down. And neither should we.
I got one photo of the incident of a Proud Boy punching a queer person with his full weight. They had just been walking behind, PBs turned around.
They tell me the punch didn’t hurt — what hurt was that they fell on a metal barricade.
Outrageous! released in 1977 was a Canadian film and one of the first gay-themed films ever to get a widespread theatrical release in North America. It is regarded as gay cinema landmark and was written and directed by Richard Benner, based on a short story by Margaret Gibson.
Outrageous stars Craig Russell as Robin Turner, a drag queen and cabaret performer and Hollis McLaren as Liza Conners, Robin”s schizophrenic roommate. Outrageous! is based on the true experiences of Russell and Gibson, who were roommates in real life.
Almost any description of “Outrageous!” makes it sound like a sensational gay exploitation film but that’s exactly what it isn’t. It’s a bittersweet, endearing, sometimes funny story, and when you describe it as the story of a friendship between a drag queen and a schizophrenic, that are both fiercely loyal and very human.
Robin Turner is a gay hairdresser. He hates his job. He loves old movies and will do his customers’ hair in the style of an iconic movie star if they’ll let him, and even if they don’t. At his apartment he is harboring his medically diagnosed schizophrenic friend, Liza Connors, who can no longer stand being institutionalized. After Liza convinces Robin to attend a drag ball dressed as Tallulah Bankhead, Robin begins to feel liberated. On Liza’s further urging, Robin accepts a local club’s offer to work as a female impersonator, he doing his own singing unlike most drag queens. As he progresses with his female impersonation work to great aplomb, he takes a shot at making it big in New York City. The money will have to come in since despite medical warnings to her not to do it, Liza has become pregnant (not Robin’s baby), she deciding to have and keep the baby.
The film itself is a wonderful time capsule to the past and brings to light that the films of the 1970’s were based more in reality and jaw dropping compared to the corporate tin of LGBT themed movies today.
For historical value alone this movie is a must-see and should be on the DVD shelf of every member of the LGBT community.
Three bills have been introduced by AZ Republican senators this week aimed at regulating and limiting drag shows in Arizona.
Via Phoenix local news: Introduced by Republican Senator Anthony Kern, SB 1030 specifically calls for regulation and business licenses for drag shows and a limitation of their hours, not allowing shows between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. Monday-Saturday and prohibiting shows on Sundays from 1 a.m. to 12 p.m. That would impact Sunday morning drag brunches.
in 2020, Kern was among the 11 local Republicans who falsely claimed to be Arizona electors. In January 2021, Kern tweeted a video showing himself as present during the attack on the US Capitol. In April 2021, reporters spotted him counting ballots inside the Maricopa County election center, despite rules saying that the counters must be nonpartisan.
Republican Senator John Kavanagh introduced one of the other bills focused on not using state money to fund drag shows targeting kids. We asked him why he believes bills about drag shows are important right now. “I would suspect that this session suddenly there’s an interest in regulating drag shows because culturally there’s been a sudden preponderance or abundance of drag shows that are directed at children,” said Kavanagh
ONLY in Arizona could Bugs Bunny be labeled as an adult entertainer.
Somehow those crazy mixed up Trump/MAGA zombies have fallen for the propaganda that Drag Queen’s groom our kids to be LGBT. When in fact it is nothing more than a harmless performance art that goe back Centuries.
The origin of the term drag is uncertain But female impersonation can be traced back at least as far as ancient Greece. There was little to no gender equity then and women held a lower social status. This meant male actors would play female roles during theatrical performance. his tradition continued for centuries but began to be less prevalent as motion pictures became popular.
In the age of Shakespearean theatre, during the late 16th century. At the time, the church was heavily connected to the stage and only allowed men to perform, and so it was that any female roles were played by the men in the cast dressed as women.
During the era of vaudeville it was considered immodest for women to appear on stage. Due to that circumstance, some men became famous as “female impersonators”, the most notable being Julian Eltinge. At the peak of his career he was one of the most sought after and highest paid actors in the world. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Bothwell Browne was the top female impersonator of the West Coast. He performed at the Grand Opera House and Central Theater, among other venues, went on tour with United Vaudeville, and later appeared in the film Yankee Doodle in Berlin (1919), produced by Mack Sennett.
In the early to mid-1900s, female impersonation had become tied to the LGBT community and thus criminality, so it had to change forms and locations.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Arthur Blake was one of the few female impersonators to be successful in both gay and mainstream entertainment, becoming famous for his impersonations of Bette Davis, Carmen Miranda, and Eleanor Roosevelt in night clubs.[ At the invitation of the Roosevelts, he performed his impersonation of Eleanor at the White House.](I guess he groomed the Roosevelts) He also impersonated Davis and Miranda in the 1952 film Diplomatic Courier.
Even today many male stars have dressed in drag in movies and theatre. Some Like It Hot, the 1959 Billy Wilder classic, remains a comedy favorite in part because of the hilarious pairing of Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag!, John Travolta played voluptuous and bubbly Edna Turnblad in the 2007 musical remake of John Water’s cult film Hairspray. Even in the In 1999’s The Boondock Saints, Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) tries saving the day by showing up at a dangerous location dressed as a woman.
And there are so many more they are literally too many to list.
So did Travolta, Curtis, Lemmon and Dafoe groom anyone?
No. They acted. They are performers, thespians, and artists.
Harris Glenn Milstead aka Divine was born to a rather well off socially conservative family on October 19, 1945, at the Women’s Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland and would grow up to be the the most famous and fabulous Drag Queen of the Century. (Sorry RuPaul but you can’t hold a cha-cha heel to Divine!) Divine weighed 320 lbs. and ballooned at the midriff like the south side of a hippopotamus. Add to all that a 40-lb. blizzard-blond fright wig, a face like a big, eerie, poster-colored subway graffito, and a set of humongous foam-rubber falsies—each packed with 50 lbs. of uncooked lentils. He called himself Divine and he was proud of his creation: a unique and hilarious high-camp cartoon.
Divine aka Milstead embraced the counterculture of the 1960s and became involved with Waters’s acting troupe, the Dreamlanders, starring in early Waters films Mondo Trasho (1969), Multiple Maniacs (1970), Pink Flamingos (1972) and Female Trouble(1974). Hits on the U.S. midnight movie circuit, the films became cult classics. In the 1970s, Divine moved to theater, appearing with The Cockettes before performing in Women Behind Bars and The Neon Woman. Continuing cinematic work, he starred in Polyester (1981), Lust in the Dust (1985) and Hairspray (1988). In 1981, Divine embarked in the disco industry, producing Hi-NRG tracks that were mostly written by Bobby Orlando. He achieved global chart success with hits like “You Think You’re a Man”, “I’m So Beautiful” and “Walk Like a Man”.
Divine considered himself to be male, and was not transgender or transsexual. He was gay and damn proud of it and during the 1980s had an extended relationship with a married man named Lee, who accompanied him almost everywhere that he went. They later separated, and Divine went on to have a brief affair with gay porn star Leo Ford, something that was widely reported upon in the gay press
On March 7, 1988, three weeks after Hairspray was released nationwide Divine passed away in Los Angeles, California from cardiomegaly but has remained a prominent cult figure within the LGBT community, and has provided the inspiration for fictional characters, artworks and songs. Various books and documentary films devoted to his life have also been produced, including Divine Trash (1998) and I Am Divine (2013).
Mr. Mister a gay bar in Texas invited parents and their kids to attend a family-friendly drag show on Saturday, during PRIDE which drew angry Neanderthal protesters and sparked outrage on social media by the extreme right . Now, a Texas Republican lawmaker wants to close the doors on all-ages drag events.
On Monday, Royse City state Rep. Bryan Slaton tweeted that he’ll file a bill next session to ban drag shows from being held in the presence of minors. “The events of this past weekend were horrifying and show a disturbing trend in which perverted adults are obsessed with sexualizing young children,” Slaton said in a statement. “As a father of two young children, I would never take my children to a drag show and I know … the rest of my Republican colleagues wouldn’t either,” he continued. “Protecting our own children isn’t enough, and our responsibility as lawmakers extends to the sexualization that is happening across Texas.”
Further proof conservatives love to “protect children” unless they’re actually losing their lives.
Philadelphia drag performer Satine Harlow is facing grief for performing the musical number “Springtime for Hitler” from the musical The Producers while dressed as a Nazi SS officer.
Harlow’s Instagram blew-up after he posted a pic from the performance in which there was a a swastika on his back with the caption “Heil Hitler”
One audience member told Philadelphia magazine, “When I saw the musical number I realized Satine was inspired by the Broadway musical The Producers. But when I checked Satine’s Instagram page, how they promoted themselves was a different story.”
The bar in which Satine performed in iCandy had problems in 2016 after a tape surfaced of the owner Darryl DePiano repeatedly using the n word to refer to people of color.
Ann Artist, another local drag performer, commented on Ziker’s choice to perform at the bar after its past history.
“I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. Choosing to perform at ICandy is a political statement,” Artist wrote on social media, according to the magazine. “Given the fact that this is the stance these performers choose I’m never surprised when they do anything that’s tacky and in poor taste like this. This level of bad taste is reflected in the name of the establishment and mirrored through the irreverence the performers have for their fellow community members.”
But Harlow — whose real name is Eric Ziker and who identifies as Jewish defends his performance.
“Are people really freaking the fuck out about a Jewish gay man doing an iconic number from a musical? Jesus Christ. Lighten the fuck up. It’s drag,” Ziker wrote. “We’re professional, some of us, pigs in wigs. Breathe. I stand by what I did…and if you disagree, unfollow me because you have no sense of humor.”